Bates at the Maine Innovation Expo 2018 May 31, 2018 11:52
We were recently invited to participate in the Maine Innovation Expo hosted by Museum LA at our original home, the Bates Mill in Lewiston. The expo was a fantastic event that offered families the opportunity to learn about all the innovative work companies are doing throughout Maine.
Our booth focused on teaching visitors about weaving and how innovations in weaving helped build the city of Lewiston through the Bates Manufacturing Company.
During the industrial revolution, entrepreneurs sought to harness the power of rivers in order to build their factories. In 1850, Benjamin Bates found that power in the mighty Androscoggin River of Lewiston. Innovations in weaving from mechanized looms to specialized types of weaving (like the Bates patented "terry weave") helped build Bates into one of the textile industry's most recognizable names.
To keep things fun for the children visiting our booth, we brought in lots of colorful yarn. While we no longer dye our own yarn, Bates used to not only just dye the yarn, but actually make the yarn from raw cotton. Today, we rely on a network of partners for these more specialized parts of yarn production.
Be sure to check out photos from the expo below, and if you were able to attend, be sure to share what you learned in the comments. Thanks again to Museum LA for inviting us to attend and share our craft with the community.
Store Manager, Katie, at our booth at the Maine Innovation Expo.
Left: Colorful yarn. Right: Bates Designer, Adrienne, show attendees how the table loom works.
The view from our booth at the expo early in the day. It was amazing to get to be back in the old mill, and if I'm sure the walls could talk - they would be pleased to see a loom again.
Celebrate the Unofficial Start of Summer: 5 Fun Activities for Memorial Day Weekend in Maine May 10, 2018 03:00
Memorial Day is just around the corner and that means the unofficial start of summer in Maine! The snow is gone (finally!), and we're ready for some fun in the sunshine. We gathered up our five favorite activities to do in Maine on Memorial Day weekend below.
1. Memorial Day Parades & Celebrations
Just about every town in Maine will be hosting a parade sometime over the weekend to celebrate the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during their military service. If you're in our area, consider attending the Memorial Day Parade in Lewiston on Saturday, May 26th. All are welcome.
The unofficial start of summer often means opening weekend for the many campgrounds throughout Maine. Luckily, there are lots of great options throughout the state of Maine including in our local area. Our favorites? The Birches Campground on Cobbosee Lake and Beaver Brook Campground on Wilson Pond. Most campgrounds have planned activities ready to keep your whole family entertained for the weekend - the hardest part for you will just be getting there.
3. Ice Cream
Summer in Maine means our seasonal ice cream shops throughout the state will be un-boarded and open for business! Just about every town has a local shop, but one shop that has becoming especially popular in our area in recent years is Fielder's Choice. This family-owned shop started in nearby Sabattus and has since expanded to other locations throughout the state including Old Orchard Beach, Auburn, Manchester and Brunswick. With a large menu (including dairy-free options!) and great prices, your whole family will be thrilled with this activity.
For some, a long weekend means time to shop! Maine has two great cities that are known for their outlet shopping - Kittery and Freeport. Both towns are great places to spend a day of shopping and exploring. If you're more interested in a variety of stores, we recommend making the trip down to the Kittery Outlets. If you're bringing your family, you may want to consider Freeport which is also home to one of Maine's most famous places - LL Bean. Featuring an indoor trout pond and other wildlife scenes, LL Bean brings the outdoors inside making it a great stop fo keeping your entire family entertained while you shop.
5. Explore the Great Outdoors
With the snow gone and the warm weather finally here (fingers crossed!), there's no better time to get outdoors, and we're lucky to live in a place that has so many options for outdoor fun! If your family loves animals, we recommend visiting DEW Haven - a fantastic place full of both local and exotic wildlife. More into plants and flowers? Consider checking out the Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay. And lastly, if you prefer to explore your own backyard - nothing beats a hike through the forest or long walk on the beach. To find out great walks in your area, check out Maine Trail Finder.
Did we miss anything? Be sure to share your own favorites in the comments!
Weaving 101: Handweaving Fun on a Table Loom April 26, 2018 10:38
Before any of our products can be manufactured and sold, they have to be designed and sampled. This process is incredibly labor intensive, but it's also exciting and rewarding. Our mill currently has looms set up for 3 different types of weaves: matelassé weaves, terry weaves, and general blanket weaves (also called dobby weaves). How we go about the design process ultimately depends on which weave we're working with, and what our end product is going to be.
For both terry and matelassé styles, a design is first created on the computer and then test woven on one of our large jacquard looms. Terry and matelassé are "compound weaves," meaning that they have a complex structure. Because of their complexity, we jump straight from conceptualizing on the computer to sampling on the production loom. To read a little more about these weaves, check out our FAQ section here.
In contrast, our blanket styles are made of simple weaves that can easily be replicated on a small hand loom. This is where the fun really starts! When creating a new blanket, we weave small sample pieces by hand on table looms before sending final patterns to our production looms downstairs. This way we can work out any problems on a small scale, and make decisions about texture and color without wasting extra time and materials.
Any handweaver will tell you that preparing a loom for weaving takes a lot of planning. Although each person has their own methods and tricks, the main process remains the same. Here we have a basic overview of the process, illustrated with a fun rainbow warp!
1| Making the Warp
First, all the warp threads for the project are measured and counted out on a warping board.
2| Winding the Warp
Once the warp has been created, it needs to be wound onto the back beam of the loom. This can be a little tricky-- the key thing to pay attention to is an even tension across all threads. Weavers have developed a lot of different techniques to make this process easier, especially when working by yourself.
3| Drawing in the Warp
After the warp is securely wound onto the back beam, each thread is brought through a metal or string eyelet called a heddle. The heddles sit within metal frames called harnesses, which rise (or lower) during weaving. These elements work in combination to determine the pattern in the finished cloth.
4| Sleying the Reed
The reed is a long metal strip with small, vertical slats that is attached to the loom's beater. If you've ever seen people weaving, the beater is what is used to pound weft threads into the woven cloth. After each warp thread is brought through a heddle, it is drawn through a corresponding slat in the reed.
5| Tying into Front Apron Rod
To be able to weave smoothly, the warp must be held under a tight and even tension. Collections of threads passed through the reed are tied onto the front of the loom to create this tension.
Finally, the part we've all been waiting for! It takes a long time and a lot of patience to set up a loom, but the results are well worth it. The possibilities are endless!
We hope you enjoyed this brief overview! If we haven't scared you off and you're interested in learning to weave, there are some ways that you can get started without a lot of fancy equipment (or frustration). Frame looms are easy to build yourself and are excellent to learn on. We love this tutorial by The Weaving Loom, "Create Your Own Frame Loom: No Tools Necessary!!"
Mother's Day: Made in USA Throws for Every Kind of Mother April 17, 2018 13:26
Mother's Day is just around the corner (Sunday, May 13th)! Whether your Mom loves a classic design that reminds her of her childhood or a more modern design that fits in with her on trend home, one of the Made in USA throws below will certainly make her smile this Mother's Day.
For the Mother that Appreciates the Classics of Yesterday
We receive so many emails from customers that love sharing their memories of the Bates bedspreads that their grandparents had when they were young. The Martha Washington's Choice Throw is a great gift idea for mothers who love to remember the "good ol' days."
For the Mother that Loves Simple Modern Design
If your mom leans more towards modern design, she may be far more into a simple pattern like the Cathedral Throw. Featuring a chevron weave, this beautiful throw will be perfect for cuddling on the couch or as an accent on the end of the bed.
For the Mother that's Always Cold
For the mothers that are always cold, our thickest throw may be the best option. The George Washington's Choice Throw features a heavyweight cable weave and comes in 6 colors so not only will she appreciate the extra layer, but you'll also be able to find her favorite color.
For the Mother that Appreciates Tradition & Craft
The Hampton Roads Throw is our most popular gift item. This throw is favored for it's simple yet elegant design that is quite versatile for any style of home. If your mom especially appreciates tradition and craft, the Hampton Roads Throw will surely be a throw she will proudly display in her home.
For the Mother that Dreams of the Beach
Don't we all wish we could whisk our mothers away on a sunny beach vacation every Mother's Day? While a beach vacation may be just out of reach, the Cape Cod Throw is a great option for moms who love the sea. Featuring a beautiful lattice pattern with seashells, she'll love how this throw reminds her of some of her favorite things - the coast and you!
Still can't decide? Let her pick with a Bates Mill Store gift card.
Spring & Summer's Favorite Bedding: Cotton Bedding April 5, 2018 13:18
It's that time of the year when the temperatures start to warm, and we're looking for ways to stay cool and comfortable through the night. While winter loves wool, everyone knows spring and summer love the breathable freshness of cotton. Below, find 4 great cotton bedding options to prep your bed for the warm season.
1. Cotton Sheets
The first place we start is your base layer. Cotton sheets are an ideal choice for the warm months as they keep you covered but allow your body to breath comfortably. There are many cotton options available so it's important to choose a sheet set that is good for the warm season (versus cotton flannel which is more ideal for the cooler winter months). We recommend our own Made in USA Cotton Sheets in Antique (Natural) or if you prefer a pop of color, consider exploring Authenticy 50's Signature Made in USA Sheets in 3 colors.
2. Cotton Blanket
Depending on where you are located, temperatures can vary widely throughout the day and night. For this reason, sometimes it's good to have options for layering in the warm months and cotton blankets are a great choice to have on hand (for especially warm nights, a cotton blanket alone you may find most comfortable!).
For those preferring a lightweight option, consider our Cable Weave Blanket. For those looking for a little extra heft (and more color options!), check out our most popular blanket, the George Washington's Choice Blanket.
3. Cotton Coverlets
For the top of bed, we love the wide variety of options for cotton coverlets (if you're more into comforters, please check out the duvet covers below!). Cotton coverlets are breathable plus easy to care for so you can easily keep them fresh all season just by washing them in your home washer and dryer. Our picks for this season? For the modern home, we like the Diamond Matelasse Coverlet. For the more traditional home, we recommend the classic Martha Washington's Choice Coverlet.
4. Cotton Duvet Covers
For those who prefer a little more fluff to their top of bed option, cotton duvet covers are a great way to freshen up your bed for spring and summer. While a flannel duvet is a great pick for winter, we recommend cotton duvet covers for the warm season! Coming in a wide variety of colors and prints, duvet covers can be a great way to not only be comfortably but also to add a pop of personality to your bedding. We recommend checking out the bright, cheery options of Lime & Leaf's Made in USA Duvet Covers.
How do you prep your bed for the warm season? Share in the comments below!
5 Tips to Prep Your House for Spring March 20, 2018 11:52Spring is officially upon us and we are very excited for the weather to start warming up and for the buds to begin blooming. After a long winter stuck inside, there are plenty of projects to get done around the house. The good news? The sooner you tackle these tasks, the sooner you will be able to kick back and start enjoying the warm weather.
1 | Inspect Exterior for Damage
Winter can be rough on the exterior of our homes - especially if you live in an area with snow. Look for things like missing roof shingles, cracks that need to be caulked, worn out weather stripping, or damaged siding, gutters, and screens. Make a list of things you can repair yourself and the ones you need to hire out for - and prioritize (get an easy check list here: how to prioritize your inspecting your home's exterior).
2 | Clean Exterior Surfaces
Decks, walkways, patios and even vinyl siding can benefit from a quick power-wash after a long, wet winter. Clearing the dirt and grime away from these surfaces is like giving your house a face lift! You can rent power washers, but they can also be fairly inexpensive to buy so you can have it on hand for other tasks like washing your car! If you're considering buying, check out this list of 2018's best power washers to find one that would fit your needs best.
3 | Clear Your Yard of Debri
Winter storms and wind can leave your yard cluttered with leaves and branches even if you did a good job cleaning up in the fall. After you pick up all the branches you can probably mulch the leaves into the grass with your lawn mower. Don’t forget to clear leaves away from the foundation of your home and existing flower beds.
4 | Clean & Store Your Winter Linens
Many of us change out our bed linens with the seasons. Making sure you take the proper steps to clean and store your seasonal linens will mean they are fresh and ready to use once the cold weather (inevitably) rolls back around.
5 | Plan Your Garden
Spring is the time to plan and prep your vegetable gardens. Prep the soil with fertilizer and tilling, order your seeds and maybe even create a map of your garden layout. If you do not have space for a garden at your home, consider purchasing a plot from a community garden, like the Monmouth Community Garden located at our facility.
Do you have any tips for prepping your home for Spring? Let us know in the comments below.
Coverlet versus Quilt: What's the Difference? February 19, 2018 20:03 1 Comment
We get lots of questions from customers about the difference between our woven coverlets and traditional quilts. In this blog post, we're going to explore the differences between these two popular bedding options and help you find just the quilt or coverlet you're seeking for your home.
Coverlets versus Quilts by Definition
A quilt is a textile that is actually made up of pieces of cloth stitch together in two layers with batting in between. A quilt is often reversible and is used as both a top of bed option or as a readily available extra layer lying decoratively at the end of a bed.
Woven coverlets are made from a single piece of material woven on a loom. Rather than stitching pieces and layers together like one would do to create a quilt, a coverlet is simply cut and hemmed to size after the fabric for the coverlet has been woven. Coverlets tend to only be a top of bed option and may be paired with a blanket underneath the coverlet for extra warmth.
Coverlets versus Quilts in Practice
Quilts can come in a variety of patterns and colors, but are often considered to have a more traditional aesthetic than coverlets. They are often hand-stitched and due to their pieced together construction, they require much more delicate care than a strongly woven coverlet.
Coverlets have a little more versatililty in terms of design due to the flexibility of the patterns in the weave. In addition, woven coverlets are often machine washable making them a great choice for folks who prefer to have an easy to care for bedding option.
If you find you prefer the complex beauty of a quilt, we recommend you check out the variety of options from Amish Country Lanes. You'll find a vast array of options and can also even commission a unique quilt custom made for you.
Source: Amish Country Lanes
For woven coverlets, we recommend checking out our array of woven coverlets. The Diamond Matelasse Coverlet features a beautiful geometric perfect for the modern home. For a more traditional home, we recommend the Martha Washington's Choice Coverlet in our terry weave and finished on three sides with a classic pom pom fringe.
Still can't decide? You may consider the fact that our most popular woven coverlets are actually made with a matelasse weave that was actually invented to replicate the puffy texture of a quilt. It's the best of both worlds!
How to Pair Colors and Textures to Make Your Bedroom Yours January 16, 2018 18:26
When decorating a bedroom, it’s important to keep the purpose of the space in mind - it’s a place to sleep. It’s also important, however, to decorate the room in a way that reflects your personal style. Express yourself with colors and textures. After all, you spend roughly a third of your life sleeping in your bedroom!
1 | Feature Your Favorite Colors and Textures
Your bedroom is YOUR space. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your favorite color and textures. You love red? Great! It’s a bold color, but it can still be added as an accent wall or with accessories. Love ruffles? Splendid! Feature an intricate bedskirt or ruffled throw pillow (maybe both).
2 | Consider Incorporating Wallpaper
A tasteful wallpaper that is strategically placed, can do wonders for a bedroom. It adds color and texture in a way that paint simply cannot. When choosing a wallpaper, always keep your overall plan in mind to make sure it’s cohesive with the rest of the room.
3 | Have Fun With Textured or Patterned Rugs
Another great way to bring a splash of color and texture to your bedroom is with an area rug. You can be more subtle with a solid colored rug that has lots of texture, or you can go bold with a fun a pattern.
4 | Be Thoughtful With Your Accessories
Throw pillows, lamps and curtains are just some of the mainstay accessories in a bedroom that can be carefully and purposefully chosen during the design process. The key is to find accessories that balance out the space and play off one-another in both texture and color. For example, if you have a shaggy pillow, but there is no other shag in the room, make sure that it’s color coincides with and compliments the rest of the room.
5 | Add Color and Texture with a Bates Bedspread, Blanket or Accessory
Our bedspreads, blankets and accessories are beautifully woven in Maine and offer several unique textures and six classic colors. From traditional to modern, we’ve got a pattern, texture or color that is perfect for your space.
Have some ideas on how to pair color and texture in the bedroom? Feel free to share in the comments below!
3 Fun Christmas Traditions & Where They Came From December 22, 2017 10:25
With just days to go until Christmas, we thought it'd be fun to learn more about where some of our favorite traditions come from. From the stockings on the fireplace to the decorating of a tree, each of these cherished traditions have a beautiful origin story that we hope you'll share with your own family this holiday season.
1. Christmas Stockings
Today, many of us have a colorful stocking that only comes out around this time of year and only serves the purpose of collecting small toys and treats. But like all our traditions on this list, Christmas Stockings have a much more humble beginning.
The story goes that a recently widowed man was worried about the marriage prospects of his three daughters. He was concerned because they didn't have much as a family, and he was worried that that would deter would-be suiters.
On Christmas night, St. Nicholas had heard from the local townspeople the sad story of the family who had recently lost a wife/mother, and he decided he wanted to help. Later that evening, he snuck into the home through the chimney and found the recently washed stockings of the young girls drying over the fireplace.
In the stockings, he put 3 gold coins. In the morning, the family woke to this wonderful surprise and the man's concern faded as he realized there would be a future for his three daughters thanks to the generous St. Nicholas. From this point on, it was a tradition to hang stockings in the home so that there was a place for St. Nicholas to put his gifts.
2. Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree tradition dates back to our pagan ancestors. Many ancient groups believed that the sun was a god and in the weeks preceding the winter solstice, they would worry that the sun was sick because of the shortening days. After the winter solstice, the days would get longer and many believed that because of the longer days, it meant that the sun was feeling better. To help the sun get through this tough time, people across many cultures would collect the boughs of a tree that could last through all seasons, the evergreen.
The collection of these boughs becoming today's Christmas tree took place in 16th century Germany when Christians would combine the collection of the evergreen boughs with the celebration of Christmas in the form of a decorated tree. It is believed that Martin Luther was the first to add candles to his boughs when he was walking home one evening and remarked on the beauty of the stars in the night sky.
German immigrants began bringing the Christmas tree to America in the 18th century, but it was not until late into the 19th century that the tradition caught on.
3. Cookies for Santa
It is believed that the tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa is actually rooted in ancient Norse mythology. Children would leave out treats to encourage the supreme god, Odin, and his horse to stop by their home to leave them gifts during the Christmas season. In fact, in many Nordic countries; children still believe Santa Clause rides on a horse versus a sleigh.
In the US, it is believed that this tradition was popularized during the Great Depression as a way to teach their children to be generous and to learn to be appreciative of the gifts they received from Santa. We love the idea of sharing this valuable life lesson with our children in both times of hardship and prosperity!
What are your favorite holiday traditions? Do you know their history? Share in the comments!
'Tis the Season: 5 Clever Ways to Give Gift Cards December 13, 2017 13:51
Gift cards are a funny thing. People love receiving them, but as the gift-giver, they can leave you feeling a bit lackluster, like you did not put in enough effort - and no one wants to come off as a lazy gift-giver!
We’ve got 5 solutions to that very problem! Step-up your gift-card-giving game this holiday season with one of these 5 clever ideas:
1 | Create an Origami Card Holder
Add a personal touch with a DIY origami gift card holder. You can find easy instructions here.
2 | Make a Themed Arrangement
Personalize the vessel for your gift card based on the theme of the gift card itself. For example, if you are giving a gift card from a coffee house, put the gift card in a coffee cup.
You could do a cute display with a disposable cup like the one shown above or add to the gift with a reusable travel or at-home mug. We love the selection of fun mugs available on Etsy.
3 | Presentation is Everything
Part of the fun about gifts is the presentation. Simply putting some extra effort into a beautiful or unique wrapping job will elevate your gift card a couple of notches.
Start by gathering some inspiration from Good Housekeeping’s article, 35 Genius Gift Wrap Ideas for Prettier Presents (psst… we like #9).
4 | Include a Shopping Bag
If the gift card is to a brick-and-mortar store where the recipient can go shopping in person, include a reusable shopping bag for them to use on their shopping trip!
You can purchase reusable shopping bags at your local grocery store or online, or you can make one at home. This tutorial shows you how to make a folding shopping bag and includes plenty of step-by-step pictures to help you through the process.
5 | Make the Purchase Easy
Make it easy for your recipient to use their gift card! Provide a catalog or brochure from the business where the gift card is intended to be used.
At Bates Mill Store, we have a helpful brochure and fabric swatch package which will make picking out the perfect bedspread, blanket or accessory easy! Simply request one in the special instructions box when placing your order for a Bates Mill Store Gift Card.
Have another fun idea for giving gift cards? Share it in the comments below!
'Tis the Season! 7 Maine Traditions to Kindle the Holiday Spirit December 2, 2017 20:35
The days may be colder and the nights may be longer, but this is one of the brightest times of the year in Maine. We're experienced in combating a 4:00PM sunset, dropping temperatures, and impending snowstorms with a vast array of winter and holiday activities to keep our spirits on the rise. If you'd like to add some new traditions to your list this year, we've put together a few ideas for you to celebrate the chilly weather and the holiday season.
1. Go Sledding or Snow-tubing
Sledding and snow-tubing are fantastic ways to get some fresh air in the wintertime and enjoy something that many of us curse more often than not-- the snow. Plus, the whole family can go!
2. Visit a Maine Craft Fair
This time of year is filled with weekend craft fairs as vendors set up their handmade wares just in time for the gift-giving rush. Check out this directory of fairs & festivals to find the closest one near you, or if you're up for a road trip, just pick the one that looks the best!
3. Pick up Goodies from Top-Notch Bakery
A family-owned business since 1995, Standard Baking Co. offers artisanal baked goods made from 100% Maine-grown grains. Stop into their shop on Commercial Street in Portland to grab some loaves for your holiday dinners, and maybe some warm pastries for the road.
Photo Source: Lauren Loves to Eat
Bakery Website: http://standardbakingco.com/
4. Go Ice Skating
If you like to skate, Maine has a TON of skating rinks, both indoor and outdoor, depending on your preference. If you're skating outdoors, just be sure to call ahead to make sure the conditions are suitable for being on ice! Check out this list to scope out all the locations: Maine Indoor and Outdoor Skating Rinks.
Source: Maine Vacations
5. Pick out a Tree at a Local Tree Farm
Searching for a Maine-grown Christmas tree? Most tree farms open up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and stay open until Christmas Eve. Some offer additional activities like sleigh rides and visits from Santa-- and some even let you cut down the tree of your choosing. To find a place near you, visit Pick Your Own Christmas Tree.
6. Knit (By the Fire, if You Can.)
Nothing screams "KNITTING!" like a winter evening when snuggling up on the couch is the only comfortable option. Mother of Purl Yarn in Freeport Maine has a "Knit Down to Christmas," where you can knit a new Christmas item each week leading up to the big day. They'll deliver free patterns to your email inbox. They also have Holiday Knitting Classes, if you need a little extra help getting started. We love to support our local yarn stores.
Source: Mother of Purl Yarn
7. Take a Tour at the Maine Heritage Weavers Factory
We love visitors and are happy to give tours of our production floor. If you need to get out of the cold and are interested in Maine weaving and textiles, drop on in during our hours of operation.
What are your favorite Maine holiday traditions? Please share them with us in the comments below!
Never Arrive Empty Handed: 5 Hostess Gifts that'll Guarantee Next Year's Invitation November 16, 2017 14:41
One of our favorite parts of the holidays is hosting and attending festive parties throughout the season. If you're planning on attending a get together, we encourage you to consider one of the Made in USA hostess gifts we've highlighted below. Your host or hostess will certainly appreciate the gesture (don't be surprised if you get an invite back next year!), and they'll love the retelling the unique story behind each of these gifts.
1. Wine Bottle Holder
While most hostesses probably have a corkscrew readily handy around their home, a wine holder can be a fun gift that can be as simple or complex as you'd like it to be. We love to give the simple counter-balancing wine bottle holders that have been popular at craft fairs in recent years. The holders are typically a simple block of wood with a hole in it which begins as a mystery item until you pull out a bottle of wine (ta-da!). The counter-balancing holder seems to almost work like magic as it perfectly balances the bottle. We love the simple design of this made in Maine wine holder from SoulfulDesign.
2. Set of Tea Towels
Tea towels are great for so many tasks around the home! They are also widely available and come in a variety of options which can give you a great opportunity to find a set that reflects the personality of the hostess. From sassy quotes to fun colors, a set of tea towels makes a great stand alone gift or, if you find a locally made set, be sure to pair your gift with a thoughtful greeting card about the artisan who made your set. From farmhouse chic to holiday cheer, we love the array of festive tea towel designs from DesignAndDandyCo.
3. Fresh Plant or Flowers in a Vessel
For many, flowers are the go to gift, but how many of us have given or received a bouquet of flowers only to be stressed about finding a vase or other vessel to put them in? We recommend solving the scramble by gifting the flowers or plant in a vessel. We recommend finding a local florist wherever you may be visiting to get the best quality flowers and a thoughtful touch. We love these gorgeous Made in Maine vases from Georgetown Pottery.
4. Winter Medley Throw
Who doesn't love to snuggle up in a cozy throw while the snow falls outside? Our newest holiday throw is designed to be a festive choice for the holidays but subtle enough to be appreciated throughout the winter months. Your hostess will appreciate the unique texture of our signature terry weave and will keep them cozy long after the holidays are over.
5. Locally Made Artisan Chocolates or Candies
With the resurgence in the craft of fine candy and chocolate taking place across the country, you won't have to look far for a locally made edible gift. Our Made in Maine pick is the super cute Thanksgiving Collection from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. Who wouldn't love a to receive a chocolate hedgehog or beautiful pumpkin truffle? If you're feeling ambitious this holiday season, you could even dive into creating your own delectable treats in your kitchen. Here's a great tutorial to get you started: 35 Heavenly Homemade Food Gifts.
Have your own go-to hostess gifts or a favorite gift you've received? Share in the comments!
Holiday Season 2017: 3 Ways to Shop Made in USA November 12, 2017 16:14
The holiday season is fast approaching! If you want to give the gift of American-made this holiday season, you'll want to play ahead to be sure to find the perfect present for everyone on your list (it is possible!). Check out our tips below for how you can keep your entire holiday shopping list Made in USA.
Source: FEZtival of Treez, Kora Temple
1. Local Craft Fairs
Craft fairs are fantastic places not only to buy beautiful Made in USA gifts, but most of the time you'll actually get to meet the craftsman or woman behind the item you're purchasing. To make the most of the craft fair season, you'll want to check out local community calendars to schedule out your shopping trips to all the fairs in your area (they start popping up as early as the first weekend in November). In some places, you'll even find craft fairs that coincide with other events making a day trip that is festive for the whole family. Our local favorite holiday event and craft fair combination takes place in Lewiston, Maine: Kora Shriners' FEZtival of Trees.
2. Small Business Saturday
Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, small businesses across the country open their doors for a special day of holiday shopping. For our team, this is one of the highlights of the year as we open our factory doors to welcome folks from across New England. We encourage people to shop great deals on bedspreads and blankets as well as tour the factory floor so they can see where the items they are purchasing are made. Learn more & RSVP to our Small Business Saturday event here.
To find out local businesses that are hosting Small Business Saturday events in your area, we encourage you to check out the Small Business Saturday Map from American Express OPEN to plan your day of shopping small and shopping made in USA.
If you don't enjoy the crowds or are simply too busy to shop in-person, we encourage you to look online. Simply use your favorite search engine to find specific items with the "Made in USA" phrase at the front of your search. Another place we love to browse for Made in USA gifts is the ever-popular marketplace, Etsy. In addition, our own state has a great organization, Maine Made, that supports local businesses in a variety of ways including an online directory that helps connect them to customers shopping year round.
We recommend signing up for the newsletters of your favorite artisans and small businesses to ensure you get their emails throughout the holiday season as many (including us) have their best sales of the year during the big 3 holiday shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (It's not just an in-person event!), and Cyber Monday.
Be sure to sign up for our newsletter here, and keep your eye out for our special holiday releases and promotions.
Where do you love to shop for American made gifts? Ever received a locally made gift you just loved? Share in the comments.
5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween in New England October 27, 2017 19:50
Fall is one of our favorite seasons here in New England, and Halloween is a big part of the celebration. No matter where you find yourself, there is sure to be a Halloween activity close-by. From scarecrows to haunted zoos... pick your poison from our list below and get started!
1 | Pick-Your-Own Pumpkin
Sure, you can buy a pumpkin at the supermarket… but why do that when you can pick your own straight from the pumpkin patch? Treworgy’s Family Orchard in Levant, Maine has this and so much more. When you are ready to carve your pumpkin, check out these 30 Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas for inspiration.
2 | Go to the Zoo
You read that right! The Southwick Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts hosts their annual Zoo Boo Days, where kids can trick-or-treat and the animals play with pumpkins!
3 | Walk through a Corn Maze
Corn mazes are a classic fall activity in New England and are great for the whole family (although some corn mazes hold night-time events for those seeking a thrill!). If you are looking for a lengthy adventure, check out the largest corn maze in New England.
4 | Haunted Houses, Haunted Walks, Haunted Rides... oh my!
Houses can be haunted any time of year, but during October in New England anything is liable to be filled with ghouls and goblins... even the woods! A quick internet search will turn up all kinds of haunted houses, walks and rides. If you find yourself in Wallingford, Connecticut for Halloween though, make sure to check out their Trail of Terror… if you dare.
5 | Go on a Scarecrow Hunt
During the month of October, the streets of Portsmouth, New Hampshire are teeming with scarecrows. Print the map above and set out to find them all. Learn more about Scarecrows of the Port here.
Do you have a favorite Halloween event that you like to attend? Share it with us in the comments below!
Monmouth Community Garden: Final Harvest and Clean-Up October 2, 2017 11:13
5 Tips for Storing Seasonal Bedding September 1, 2017 13:42
Bedding, like so many things in life, tends to change with the seasons. With cooler weather on the horizon, we thought this would be a good time to share some tips for storing your warm-weather bedding until Spring.
1 | Proper Cleaning
Before storing your linens for the winter, run them through a proper wash and dry cycle. That way, they’ll be fresh and ready to throw on the bed come spring. For larger linens, like bedspreads, you might consider going to a laundromat where you will have access to large capacity washers and dryers for the most thorough cleaning.
2 | Breathable Packaging
When dealing with natural fibers (like cotton), it is good practice to let the fabric breath while in storage. That means storing it in a container which is also made of natural fibers (again, like cotton). These under-the-bed containers by Household Essentials® are made of cotton canvas and designed to be used with cedar planks for added freshness and protection from moths.
3 | Picking the Best Location
Where you store your blankets is just as important as how you store your blankets. Of course, the location of storage will depend entirely on the space you have available. But no matter where you tuck them away, the most important thing is that the space be cool and dry. If the storage area is warm, moisture can build up leading to mold and mildew. If you let that happen, then you will be spending your valuable time finding ways to save the fabric.
4 | Saving Space
If your home does not offer a lot of extra space for storage, you may be forced to get creative when packing away your seasonal bedding. One space saving idea is to store your seasonal bedding in a cedar chest, which offers a dual function of storage and seating.
5 | Prepare for Winter
Before storing away your summer bedding, make sure you have your winter linens ready! We have plenty of heavyweight bedspreads and blankets that are sure to keep you warm all winter long.
Do you have a storage tip that works for you? Share it in the comments below!
Monmouth Community Garden: Ready for Harvest August 20, 2017 17:17 1 Comment
Check out what's growing on the Bates Mill Store + Factory lawn!
The bees have been loving the acorn squash flowers! It makes us happy to see them out and about pollinating.
The red cabbage is almost ready for harvest. Just a few more days!
The Monmouth Community Garden isn't just for veggies. Audrey always plants a selection of flowers on the edge of her garden plot. These marigolds are actually a natural way to help keep pests away.
The rainbow chard could be made into a bouquet of it's own.
Tomatoes are just beginning to turn red. These guys have come a long way since we last snapped their photo.
A spindly tomato seedling from our first post. They grow up so fast!
You know how it is: plant just a few zucchini seeds in the spring and you'll have them coming out of your ears in no time. Looks like many of our gardeners will be eating zucchini every day for the next few weeks! Need cooking inspiration? We found a list of 46 Sweet and Savory Zucchini Ideas from Crazy for Crust. How many of these dishes can you make by the end of the season? We challenge you!
Have your own garden-harvest recipes to share? We'd love to hear your favorites. Tell us all about them in the comment section!
Back to School: 5 Made is USA Options for All Students Heading Back to School August 9, 2017 12:33
It's that time of year again! Whether you're sending your kids off to kindergarten or college, there are some great companies still making quality school supplies and accessories that are guaranteed to please your student for years to come.
Source: Tough Traveler
1. Made in USA Backpack
We love the range of Made in USA backpacks from Tough Traveler. They've been making all sorts of bags in NY since 1970 and are happy to add custom options to your bag (this is one of the advantages of buying direct from a factory!). If your student is middle school or younger, be sure to check out their backpacks for children. If your student is heading to college, check out there regular line of backpacks.
Source: Write Dudes
2. Made in USA Pencils
For your general pencil writing needs, Write Dudes have a great American made option in their USA Gold pencils. These traditional yellow pencils are made in Tennessee and out of sustainably harvested cedar wood.
If your student is an artist, we also recommend checking out The General Pencil Company. They have been making high quality pencils in New Jersey since 1889. With six generations of experience, your artist will appreciate the quality and craft that goes into the pencils that will help them create their own artwork.
Source: Michael Roger
3. Made in USA Notebooks
Family-owned since it was started in 1949, you can expect only the highest quality Made in USA notebooks from the company, Michael Roger. We especially like their line of "Decomposition" Notebooks which are made of 100% post-consumer-waste and come in a variety of beautiful designs. You're sure to find the perfect fit for any student - no matter the age (you may even pick one up for yourself). Visit their website to find a local store near you or you can purchase through their sister store, BookBinders.com.
4. Made in USA Crayons, Markers & More
One of the can't-be-forgotten items on every elementary school list are those that make the days colorful! Crayola has been making their iconic crayons since 1903 and continue to make a variety of their products here in the USA. Check out all their Made in USA crayons, markers, and more here.
5. Made in USA Blankets
If your student is heading to college, you may be exploring twin size bedding options for their dorm room. We have lots of great blanket options in twin sizes that are wonderful options for the top of bed or even for your son or daughter to have an extra layer available for chilly nights in the dorm. Perhaps the best part is that they are all machine washable/dry-able making it easy for your student to clean while away. Check out all our Made in USA Blankets.
Do you have any go-to Made in USA supplies on your list? Be sure to share in the comments.
Monmouth Community Garden: Growing Strong & New Sign! July 30, 2017 12:36
MONMOUTH COMMUNITY GARDEN
It's mid-July, and all the plants in the Monmouth Community Garden are starting to burst! After a rainy and chilly spring, the weather has blossomed into a string of hot, humid days. One would think that the high humidity levels would indicate more rain on the horizon, but it never seems to come. Although the lack of precipitation this season could be concerning for some gardeners, the Monmouth Community Garden has two hoses on site, making watering easy to keep up with. Thank goodness! With water available, the plants seem to be thriving in the heat-- especially the peppers. Can you believe how big those babies are already?
In other news, now we're official: we have a snazzy sign out front! We're excited to have this new addition in the garden, and hope that it will catch some prospective gardeners' eyes who are interested in participating next season. Check it out as you drive by (but rubberneck safely, please-- don't go into the ditch!)
Once again, we would like to thank the Bates Mill Store/Maine Heritage Weavers Factory for hosting our garden and providing their constant support. It's already looking like a plentiful harvest is on the way.
What's growing in your garden this year? What is your favorite way to enjoy fresh produce? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!
All American Beach Trip: 5 Made in USA Beach Accessories for Your Next Seaside Adventure June 15, 2017 12:50 1 Comment
Summer in Maine is one of our favorite times of the year - especially since we get to enjoy our beautiful beaches under the hot sun. This season, we wanted to find the perfect set of beach accessories to help make our trips to the ocean as enjoyable as possible. Check out the 5 Made in USA beach accessories that made our list below and be sure to share your own recommendations in the comments.
Photo Source: Anywhere Chair
1. Beach Chair - Mini Sand Chair from Anywhere Chair (Made in North Carolina)
Heading to the beach means relaxing, and as much as we love just laying out in the sand, a chair is often a welcomed spot to relax and enjoy the scenery comfortably. We love the portable size of the Mini Sand Chair from Anywhere Chair. Made from solid oak and marine grade fabric in 30 color options, they make it easy to pick out the perfect chair for your next beach trip.
2. Beach Toys - Sand Play Set from Green Toys (Made in California)
What beach trip isn't complete without a sand castle or two? This back to the basics sand play set from Green Toys is the perfect set of tools to make a sandcastle or hunt for buried treasure. Available in 3 colors, the little ones will certainly be thrilled to pick out their favorite color while the adults can be happy to know that their beach toys are made out of 100% recycled plastic by an American manufacturer based in California.
3. Beach Blanket from Bates Mill Store (Made in Maine)
What beach gear list isn't complete without a beach blanket? Our 2017 Beach Blanket's tight weave makes it resistant to picking up sand, so you won't be taking too much of the beach home with you. These lightweight blankets are large enough for two people to lounge on and soak up the sun while folding up small enough to take with you wherever you go. Made in Maine of 100% preshrunk cotton and machine washable for easy care following a long day on the sand.
4. Beach Towel from Just Beach Towels (Made in USA)
In Maine, our beach waters tend to be quite cold - especially in the ocean - so a nice heavy option is our beach towel of choice. We love these striped over-sized Cabana Towels from Just Beach Towels. These heavyweight Cabana Towels are available in 3 colors (blue/white, green/white, and pink/white) and are made in a huge size at 38" by 68" inches. If you're not into stripes, they have several other fun patterns to choose from in the same quality construction. See all their options in this collection: Made in USA Beach Towels.
Photo Source: Bison Coolers
5. Beach Cooler - Bison Soft Sided Cooler (Made in Texas)
Stylish and practical - these Soft Sided Coolers from Bison can keep ice cold for up to 24 hours in 120 degree heat. The smaller size fits 12 cans or you can upgrade to the 24 can size. We love this easy to tote option for a day on the beach or wherever your adventures take you this summer. Available in 4 colors: Tan, Black, Pink and Blue.
Monmouth Community Garden: Ready For Planting! June 9, 2017 10:25
5 Ways to Observe Memorial Day Weekend in Maine May 14, 2017 12:34
Memorial Day weekend is the official “unofficial start” to Summer in Maine. The weather is warm, the birds are singing, and flowers are blooming. It’s only natural for us to want to get outside and enjoy it all! At the same time, we want to respect the real reason for Memorial Day, which is to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy freedom and liberty. Below are 5 ways to observe Memorial Day while still leaving yourself plenty of time for barbeques with family and friends.
1 | Participate in a 5k Fundraiser
This is a great way to get outside while supporting a good cause. Look for a 5k where the proceeds benefit soldiers and their families, like the Miles for Mills 5k in Augusta.
2 | Bring the Kids to a Parade
There’s no shortage of parades on Memorial Day and kids love them! Check out this list of parades in Maine to find one near you.
3 | Attend a Memorial Day Service
Memorial Day services often go hand-in-hand with parades, but there are plenty of ceremonies where you can avoid all the fanfare if that’s not what you’re into. Look for flag-raising ceremonies, wreath laying ceremonies and guest speakers.
4 | Volunteer for Cemetery Clean Up
Towns will often clean the local cemetery and place flowers or flags on the graves of fallen soldiers during the month of May and specifically on Memorial Day. Check with your local town office for opportunities to assist.
5 | Observe the National Moment of Remembrance
This is one that everyone can participate in, no matter where you are or what you are doing. At 3:00pm local time, take a moment to participate with the rest of the country in a moment of silence to reflect on sacrifices made for our freedom.
How will you be spending your Memorial Day Weekend? Share in the comments.
Welcoming Monmouth Community Garden's Third Year May 3, 2017 14:00
Spring is a notoriously fickle season in Maine. Some years, we're still getting snow showers mid-April, and other times it's practically already summer come Easter. Luckily for us, this year the latter seems to be (more) true. Grass is green, and though temperatures have yet to really rise, we've been spoiled by a warm day or two. In any case, it's May now...so we've moved past the danger zone!
With warmer weather definitely on the way, Bates Mill Store is getting ready to kick off a 3rd year of hosting the Monmouth Community Garden, a project we've greatly enjoyed supporting and seeing grow over the last few summers.
The garden, which is located on the large front lawn of the Maine Heritage Weavers factory building, is managed by a small group of community members who are dedicated to tending their garden plots and keeping the operation running smoothly year-to-year. The land space, tilling, and water (right on site!) is donated by Maine Heritage Weavers.
Plot spaces are signed up for as singles (12'x30') or, for the avid gardener, as doubles (24'x30'). Gardeners are responsible for the upkeep of their own plots, and for working respectfully with their plot neighbors to ensure a harmonious and successful season.
Below are some photos from last year's crop. It explodes fast!
We were very fortunate to have water available to us right on site, considering last year's drought conditions. Clearly, this jungle was well-watered, and had plenty of sun!
If you, or someone that you know, is interested in having a small garden plot this year, please spread the word and like us on Facebook. We still have 6 open plots available (if taken as singles-- less if doubled up).
You can read more about last year's efforts in the Monmouth Community Garden project in the Kennebec Journal.
For questions or to inquire about available plot spaces, Please contact the garden coordinator, Chad Wright at 207-446-9685 for additional information.
Those interested in signing up for a plot can also get in touch with Laurie Walker at the Monmouth Town Office. She is the official go-to for plot registration and can be reached at the regular town office hours.
Here's to another excellent growing season! We look forward to all the fresh veggies.
Bates Employee Attempts to Dye Easter Eggs With Pantry Ingredients, Decides to Keep Day Job April 14, 2017 10:54
Nobody knows for sure where the tradition of dying eggs for Easter began, but there are several origin stories. If you didn’t grow up participating in this activity, then you might view the whole thing as a bit wacky, but for many of us it is a favorite Springtime activity.
When dying Easter eggs, it is standard practice to use food coloring in order to create an array of fun pastels. In recent years, however, the internet has been filled with tutorials on how to make natural dyes from normal pantry items. The dyes are said to offer a palette of earthy, natural hues. One of our employees decided to try her hand at this new method. Did it work? We will let her tell you how it went.
I decided to try this natural method for dying eggs on a whim, so I was limited to what I had on hand. I was able to scrounge up the following ingredients that I suspected might do the trick (photo above: left to right): paprika, ginger powder, Beyond Coffee (a yummy coffee alternative, Made in Maine!), soy sauce, maraschino cherries, spinach and cherry tomatoes. I had high hopes for the paprika, spinach and coffee because those were mentioned in some of the tutorials I had reviewed. If nothing else, I was certain the cherries would work because they already have an actual dye in them.
After reviewing several sets of online instructions for the easiest possible method, I decided to wing it. I filled the jars with boiling water from the tea kettle and added a tablespoon of white vinegar to each.
I allowed the dyes to cool slightly before adding my boiled eggs and then stored them overnight in the refrigerator. The picture above shows the eggs before entering the dye baths. Would they be an array of fun colors in the morning?
Not quite. The eggs from the "coffee", soy sauce, carrots and ginger changed to a slightly darker (but still normal) egg color, while the egg from the spinach did not change at all. The egg from the paprika had only a very slight red hue, and my sure-fire cherry egg was barely pink. What did I do wrong?
After carefully reviewing the instructions, there were a few things I could have done differently that might have helped my chances. Please don't let my experience deter you from trying! Learn from my mistakes:
1) Boil the dye ingredient in water for at least 5 minutes.
2) Strain out any solids from the dye liquid.
3) Use white eggs so whatever color does show is more prominent.
4) Use fresh vegetables (I used frozen spinach and tomatoes).
5) Allow the dye to cool completely before adding the eggs."
All is not lost, however. I know someone who will still enjoy the eggs. :)
Have an egg dying recipe of your own? Please feel free to share it in the comments!